Appeals court agrees Price had no right to hearing

Updated: April 20, 2004, 6:15 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a ruling that former Alabama football coach Mike Price was not entitled to a hearing before or after his firing because he had not signed a contract with the university.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed with a lower court's decision to dismiss Price's $20 million defamation and wrongful termination suit against the university.

Price and the university agreed in December 2002 to the principles of a seven-year, $10 million contract. Before Price signed a contract, questions arose about his drunken behavior at a golf tournament in Pensacola, Fla., and he was fired in May 2003.

Price, who had coached Washington State to the Rose Bowl before going to Alabama, argued that he was entitled to a hearing before his firing and an appeal afterward, and that the university's refusal to grant either hearing prevented him from clearing his name. But the lower court ruled that Price had no such rights because he had not signed a contract.

The appeals court agreed.

"Even if Price had orally accepted the terms of the draft proposal contract," the panel wrote, "Alabama's Statute of Frauds requires that the contract be reduced to writing and signed, which was not the case here."

Price's attorney, Stephen Heninger of Birmingham, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Price is now head coach at Texas-El Paso.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press